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Welcoming the WICG

“Championing responsive web standards” is the primary goal of the Responsive Issues Community Group, and it continues to be—we put it right there in the name, after all. But our secondary goal—paving a new way for designers and developers to participate in web standards—has been tough to balance at the same time.

By taking point on the issues that matter to the community and encouraging designers and developers to come to us with their ideas, I’ve worried that we’re putting ourselves in a position to someday play unwitting web standards gatekeepers. I’ve worried that web standards will still be thought of as a problem solved elsewhere, by those with the right connections and influence to get them solved—not the responsibility of each and every one of us.

I’ve worried that the RICG could someday become the new old guard.

I’ve been unsure of the way forward, though—in fact, I’ve been dragging my feet a little. I have a spec to work on, but I really haven’t; I haven’t even been sure about having my name on it. I don’t want to own it. I want everyone to own it. That’s what I want web standards to be.

But the RICG’s strength is that it’s made up of hundreds of brilliant developers and designers, and they’re smarter than I am. For all my worrying, I should have realized that there was already a plan for the works.

Enter the WICG

The brand new Web Incubator Community Group—chaired by the RICG’s own Yoav Weiss and Marcos Caceres and Google’s Chris Wilson—aims to “make it as easy as possible for developers to propose new platform features, in the spirit of the Extensible Web Manifesto.” Their goal is to take the lessons learned during the RICG’s responsive images slog and adapt web standards to match. No more being shoehorned into ancient mailing lists and IRC channels—unless that’s what you want to use, of course.

They won’t act as gatekeepers; they won’t thumbs-up or thumbs-down your proposals. They will guide you through the web standards process, and they’ll use all their experience to make it go as smoothly as possible.

As for the RICG, we’re not going anywhere. We’ve got work to do; we’ve got a platform and a purpose, and we’re going to keep on picking the web standards fights that need to be fought. We’ll keep on encouraging people to get involved in web standards, for certain, but now we can do so with direction. You don’t have to join our IRC channel or pipe up on our mailing list. We’ll get you set up with our friends at the WICG, and they’ll help you get started—maybe that’ll lead you back to us, and maybe it’ll lead to your own community group and your own specification. If you do end up with us, rest assured that we’ll be learning all the same lessons as the WICG: we’ll find new ways to meet you where you’re most comfortable, instead of trying to make you stick to our processes.

The RICG and the WICG share more than a few letters and a handful of members. We share the same goal: to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for anyone that wants to get involved in web standards. They not only have the RICG’s full support, but they have us completely on board. We’ll be publishing our specifications through the WICG from here on, backed up with all the patent protection of the W3C. No more pirate radio web standards.

We made a lot of our progress by bucking the rules in the past, because the rules weren’t what they should have been. But the RICG—and now the WICG—aim to make new rules for the web standards game, and it wouldn’t be fair if we put ourselves outside of them at the same time. By aligning the RICG with the WICG, we’re ensuring that we play on the same field as every other group of developers with a good idea.

That’s the way it should be.

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